When is a city not necessarily a city? When Wendell Cox is writing the definitions. In a recent article on the website New Geography, Cox resorts to some creative use of Census geography in an attempt to refute a growing body of evidence that urban areas are making a comeback.
The recent phenomenon of people (and businesses, and retail, and the developers who build for them) returning to places whose built environments provide a range of housing types and are designed to enable multiple transportation options – places including, but not limited to, the country’s biggest cities – has been well documented. Part of it is demographics – specifically the fact that the current generation of 20-somethings simply doesn’t want what the Baby Boomers did, and that employers are having to respond accordingly.
Also well documented is the fact that far-flung “exurban” (a term without any official definition, by the way) developments have been the hardest-hit places in the current recession and may not rebound any time soon.
Some of New Jersey Future’s own research reinforces these points; finding, for example, that building permit activity in older, built-out towns hasn’t fallen off as dramatically as it has in sprawling suburbs, and that transit-accessible towns have generally been more recession-resistant.